Vilsack reacts to potential shutdown as Congressional leaders extend funding deadline by one week

A deal has been reached in Washington that will likely avert a weekend government shutdown.  The stopgap measure pushes back two appropriations deadlines including the deadline for agencies including USDA.

During the Senate Ag Committee’s Oversight Hearing on USDA, Georgia Senator  Raphael Warnock mentioned the apparent deal that was just voted on and asked Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack what consequences of a possible government shutdown keep him up at night, and his list was lengthy. He said, “First of all, the farmer who can’t get the loan, the farmer who won’t be able to get the ARC and PLC payment, the farmer that won’t be able to get the disaster assistance program, a farmer that won’t be able to get the conservation contract signed, the SNAP recipient potentially that won’t get the SNAP resources to be able to go to the grocery store.”

Vilsack also told the hearing WIC recipients would also suffer, researchers might lose millions of dollars of work with a lab shut down, and the Forest Service would not be able to let people enjoy those resources.  Vilsack says when Congress can’t fund the government, there are huge consequences. “This is the fourth time that we’ve had to spend staff time planning for a shutdown. Interestingly enough, depending upon the timing of the shutdown depends on who gets characterized and in what category in terms of the workforce. It is an extraordinary waste of time.”

The new agreement reached Wednesday would extend the deadline to fund many government agencies until March 8th.  This would include USDA, FDA, Energy, Military Construction, the Veterans Administration, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Environment.

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